Deb Never blurs the lines between the strange and the mundane in a short film tied to her new EP, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, which also arrives today, September 10th.
The short, directed by Tucker Phillips, is set to the EP’s opening track, “Stupid,” an expertly crafted ballad that begins with little more than piano but blossoms into a cathartic boom. The film follows the song’s lead as Never drives through a vast desert, stops to sniff a lone flower growing in the wasteland, and then briefly finds herself transported into another flower-filled realm.
“The overall feeling of this EP explores the themes of feeling lost, falling, and solitude,” Never tells Rolling Stone in an email. “This short film represents that visually by creating a world where it captures these surreal feelings in a sometimes mundane existence. It’s as if I’m dreaming, or you’re looking into my head, where there isn’t a specific time or place and you can’t tell what’s real or what isn’t. Tucker killed it with helping me translating that dream state into a cinematic masterpiece.”
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? features production from Jam City, Jim-E Stack, Michael Percy and Luke Wild. It marks Never’s first proper studio release since her 2019 EP, House on Wheels, though last year, at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, she dropped a quarantine collection, Intermission, exclusively on Bandcamp, with all proceeds going to pandemic relief efforts.
After Intermission, in need of some fresh inspiration, Never decamped to London, which is where she wrote much of Where Have All the Flowers Gone? “The unfamiliarity but at the same time nostalgic feeling that I got from my time there inspired me. You can hear that more prominently in my track ‘Someone Else,’ where there’s a nostalgic feeling and the drum and bass break down at the end that was an ode to a UK sound.”
As for the EP’s title, Never notes it wasn’t a conscious nod to the 1955 Pete Seeger track of the same name, but rather a feeling that struck her suddenly while working on a song: “I was looking out the window observing how beautiful it was outside, but how terrible I felt inside,” she says. “Symbolically the flowers represented something beautiful, so this entire journey has been looking for that flower and learning to appreciate life. Especially after a time where our everyday was taken away from us, we learned to slow down and smell the flowers. It wasn’t consciously related to the Peter Seeger song, which I realized later. It was merely an observation and question posed to myself and the world in that moment.”